The Irish Times, August 2023

Ok I want to give you a little back story. 

Having grown up in the West of Ireland back in the time when there was only one T.V in the house I had a tendency to read a lot. I think this may have sparked my interest in other parts of the world. I remember dying to finish school and having already secured my place as an apprentice hairdresser. My goal was to qualify as soon as possible so that I could get over to Australia where everyone was returning with incredible stories of adventures. I had been dreaming about it for so long. Apprenticeships usually took four years back then but you could qualify sooner if you worked hard and my goal was two years. So two months before my 20th birthday I was qualified. I then had to make some money to make my dream a reality.

Well obviously eye on the prize I met my now husband whom I was grateful that he thought going to Australia was a great idea. While we were living in Australia we both lost some older members of our family and realized maybe it was a little too far away for us. So having backpacked for 6 months on the way out there we decided to do 6 months in South America which included 1 month in a school in Chile to try to learn some Spanish.

I remember when our trip was almost over and thinking wow my only life goal is completed. So we went home to Ireland to live out the rest of our days the way we felt that we were supposed to. House,children. But I think reentry was a struggle for both of us. We had seen the world and now we were doing the same thing everyday. Things were not that plentiful in the west of Ireland so Wesley took the time to go back to school and I started to dream a little again. My mum lives in San Francisco so when Wesley finished school we decided that we would see if we could make a go of it over there. 

This was much harder this time as we had our two kids in tow and it’s an incredibly expensive place to live. But two years later I started working for myself and things started to look up. 

Things were going really well then Covid hit. I think everyone knows how it made everyone rethink their lives. All of a sudden Ireland felt a little far away again. We also always never quite felt like it was home. So we started dreaming again. We didn’t feel like we needed to live in Ireland but we wanted something a little closer. I always had the idea that my children would have two languages and since my Irish is extremely poor but my Spanish was still in there somewhere perhaps we could try Spain.

From San Francisco how can you even begin to know what part of Spain to go live in so we decided that we would take the kids backpacking and even walk some of the Camino de Santiago. I fully believed that when I opened myself up the answers would come to me. I also committed that the way I would relearn my Spanish was by homeschooling the kids while we traveled because I did it for a full year during covid so I could do it for another three months right. We took the kids out of school a little early in May and set the goal to have them picked somewhere by August to get them into school in Spain.

We started in Barcelona, made our way up to Pamplona and started to walk the Camino. We thought that we could go as far as Burgos but we made it to Logrono. It has to date been one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I am beyond grateful to have done it with my children. 

So then we set about trying to scope out some areas we looked at: Valladolid, Salamanca, Alicante, Torremolinos, Toledo, Granada, Cadiz but nothing felt right until we came to Nerja. It must have been happening to Wesley as we were here because we came to see his friends and they were looking at houses. I didn’t feel it till we left and then I felt it in my stomach like why would I leave this place. And not only that but the two final places that we were to look at I just wanted the time to be over until we could get back to Nerja. We cut our last place from a week to four days. i arranged to view a house as soon as we arrived in town and that is where we live.

In the meantime we also knew that work in Spain was tough and having worked for myself for five years I didn’t particularly want to work for someone else again so we were looking for what might be an opportunity for a business. One of my first jobs in San francisco was beside an incredible Specialty coffee roaster. They had this warehouse where every part of the process was done. So you could drink a delicious cup of coffee while watching how they did all of the process. In the early days we didn’t have money for this coffee but I always loved coffee. Growing up in Mayo with an American mother, our house was always considered the place to get good coffee back in the days when you couldn’t hardly get ground coffee. My Mum always made French press on special occasions and at dinner parties. When I was training to be a hairdresser I thought someday I’d own a hair salon with a Starbucks inside. In Australia I learned what an incredible cup of coffee should taste like. In Paris I learned to drink it black. I became the person who made good coffee in my village so when we started to make some money in America Wes would buy me specialty coffee. Well as time went on I couldn’t drink anything else. So one day in Salamanca after drinking another awful cup of coffee I knew even before I knew where we wanted to live that I wanted to become a coffee roaster. 

Now almost a year on, Wes and I go every weekend to markets all over the Costa del Sol and Granada and we sell freshly roasted coffee beans to Spanish, tourists and expats. Our kids now speak incredible Spanish and we hope that we can continue to keep our dream alive. We love it here. The kids have incredible freedom and it feels a little bit like Westport but in the sunshine.

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